Well over 1,000 Russian troops are operating inside Ukraine, Nato claimed. It released satellite images it said showed Russian combat forces, armed with heavy weapons, engaged in military operations inside Ukrainian territory. Nato estimates Russia also has around 20,000 troops close to the Ukrainian border.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said allegations Russia's military is fighting in eastern Ukraine are "conjecture".

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Satellite images released by Nato show Russian combat forces, armed with heavy weapons, inside and just outside Ukrainian territoryNato/DigitalGlobe

Russia stands accused of pushing troops and weapons into the former Soviet republic to shore up a separatist rebellion that a week ago appeared to be on its last legs. That development has sharply escalated the five-month conflict over eastern Ukraine.

Alexander Zakharchenko, a leader of pro-Moscow rebel forces in eastern Ukraine, said he had agreed to open a humanitarian corridor for encircled Ukraine troops. Russian President Vladimir Putin had called on the rebels to provide the corridor in east Ukraine for Ukrainian government troops to leave the battlefield.

The Ukrainian military alleged Putin's intervention showed the separatists were under the direct control of the Kremlin.

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Servicemen sit atop an armoured vehicle as they travel through the steppe near the village of Krasnodarovka in the Rostov region of Russia, just across the border from a part of Ukraine which Kiev says is occupied by Russian troopsReuters
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Military attaches examine a Russian tank displayed in Kiev. Russian weapons and artillery, seized by Ukrainian forces from pro-Russian separatists following clashes in the east of the country, were displayed for inspectionAFP
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A tattered flag of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic flies over a damaged war memorial at Savur-Mohyla in Ukraine, about 5km from the Russian borderReuters
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A Pro-Russian separatist stands near a damaged war memorial at Savur-Mohyla, a hill east of the city of DonetskReuters
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A Pro-Russian separatist walks past a destroyed tank at Savur-Mohyla, scene of intense fightingReuters
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A helmet and ammunition are seen at Savur-Mohyla, a hill east of the city of DonetskReuters
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Pro-Russian separatistsstand guard near unmarked graves at Savur-MohylaReuters

The UN estimates a total of 2,593 people, including civilians as well as Ukrainian and separatist combatants, have been killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine since it started in mid-April.

Around three dozen people a day are being killed in eastern Ukraine where both sides target civilians in violation of international law, the UN said.

The latest findings show both sides committing a range of abuses targeting civilians trapped in urban areas or trying to flee through so-called safe corridors.

Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine have carried out abductions, torture and murder along with other serious human rights abuses. But the report says Ukraine's military also is responsible for violations such as arbitrary detentions, disappearances and torture.

Fifteen civilians were killed in shelling in the east Ukrainian city of Donetsk. The city has experienced heavy shelling over the past two weeks as government forces attempt to push out pro-Russian separatists who have declared a "Donetsk People's Republic" and said they seek union with Russia.

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Official remove a corpse from a street in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk after shellingAFP
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Smoke rises above a damaged building following what locals say was shelling by Ukrainian forces in Donetsk, eastern UkraineReuters
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People watch as a fire consumes a school in Donetsk after shellingAFP
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Ukrainian servicemen escort a detained man in the town of Dzerzhinsk, near DonetskReuters
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A group of Russian servicemen detained by Ukrainian authorities attend a news conference in Kiev. Ukraine said its forces had captured a group of Russian paratroopers who had crossed into Ukrainian territory on a "special mission" - but Moscow said they had ended up there by mistakeReuters
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Olga Garina, the mother of Russian paratrooper Egor Pochtoev captured in Ukraine, speaks with her son in Kostroma. Mothers and wives of Russian paratroopers say they were sent on military drills and then went incommunicado, only for some of them to return in pine boxesAFP

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said his government will ask parliament to abandon Ukraine's non-aligned status and set the country on a course to seek to become a member of Nato.

He added that the basic aim of Ukrainian foreign policy remained to become a member of the European Union.